Builders Field - Apprentice School Builders
Photos by Aaron S. Terry , Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Builders Field 700 41st St Newport News, VA 23607
Year Opened: 1980s Capacity: 1500
USCAA Football Virginia
Builders Field in Newport News, VA is the home of the Apprentice School Builders football team. Built in the mid-1980s and seating 1500 fans, the stadium sits next to one of Newport News Shipbuilding’s facilities, located not far from the pier. Newport News Shipbuilding has been building US Navy ships for the past 135 years, and is currently working on the Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers, including 10 next generation carriers in total. The Apprentice School Builders take their name from the city’s ship building history, and in fact their athletic teams use the same motto as Newport News Shipbuilding – Always Good Ships.
Food & Beverage 2
There are two concession stands at Builders Field, one a fixed stand called Glo’s Eat & Go and the other a food truck call Georgia’s – Glo’s offers wings, chicken tenders, chopped BBQ, hot dogs, burgers, and fries, along with bottled water, soda, candy, and chips, while Georgia’s sells ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, fish sandwiches and fried fish pieces, polish sausage, wings, nachos, hot dogs, and fries, as well as soda, canned iced tea, and bottled water. Prices at both stands range from $5 to $14 for the larger items, and $1 to $2 for drinks and small snacks.
While there are plenty of options at Builders Field, one of the stands ran out of food by halftime, so I ended up running down the street to a nearby fast food place called Chick-A-Sea (specializing in fried chicken and fried fish), which is very good and was swamped with people.
Builders Field is a nice facility with hedges bordering the field on each side, with plenty of Builders signage and shipbuilding artifacts on display, for example a propeller statue and an anchor statue behind one end zone. There are also chairback benches along the whole length of the main stands, as well as a tent with tables and chairs where you can sit if you prefer more shade, and some attendees even park outside the fence and watch from their cars while tailgating.
There is not much entertainment here besides the game itself, however, as there is no mascot, no band, and no cheerleaders to be seen. I also did not hear much in the way of set cheers or catchphrases yelled at certain points in the game by the home crowd.
Builders Field appears to be located in a rough part of town – the stadium is surrounded on three sides by government housing, and there is a major freeway right behind the main stands, which you can hear the traffic from all game long. One of Newport News Shipbuilding’s facilities is also visible behind the visitor stands, as well as a school bus parking lot.
There are a few fast-food restaurants within a short drive, like the aforementioned Chick-A-Sea and others such as Popeye’s or Church’s Chicken. The Virginia War Museum is also nearby, which is well worth a visit if you plan to be in town for the day or weekend – I didn’t go inside, but I had a fabulous time driving around the property looking at all the tanks, self-propelled guns, cannons, navy Big-Guns, anti-aircraft guns, etc. dotted around the park.
The Builders draw a pretty good crowd – the stadium is not full by any means, but you will see many fans wearing Apprentice School gear, and the fans are very passionate when they cheer. The visiting stands are much smaller than the main stands, so during some games, especially for nearby opponents, you will definitely see the visitor section filled to capacity.
Note that on the home side, the middle sections of the three to four rows closest to the press box offer some great shade, so you may want to try and sit in those rows if you can.
Getting to Builders Field is a piece of cake – Newport News is on the water, so you may have to fight some traffic on the bridges and in the tunnels depending on which direction you are coming from, but as I mentioned above, a major highway (I-664) goes right by the stadium, so you practically can’t miss it. There is also free parking right next to the field, close enough that you can watch the game from your car if you want.
The bathrooms here are a mixed lot – the Apprentice School athletics building behind one end zone houses the only “regular” bathrooms; behind the opposite end zone you will instead find port-a-johns (behind the scoreboard) or a trailer (next to the main stands) with restrooms that are kind of in the middle (a step up from a port-a-potty, but not quite a full bathroom either).
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Apprentice School football games only cost about $8 each, including fees, but you must purchase them online – you can print the tickets out and bring them with you, though, if you don’t want to worry about having them on your phone. Alternatively, you can watch the game for free from just outside the fence, but with tickets this cheap I would recommend sitting in the stands (if you can find some shade) or under the aforementioned tent.
Builders Field is pleasant to walk around, the hedges are great, and you may enjoy taking a photo of the anchor and propeller.
Apprentice School football offers a pleasant, low-key way to enjoy the fall weather. You won’t hear the over-the-top crowd noise that some college football stadiums are famous for, but if you are looking for a family-friendly experience that won’t cost a fortune, this is the perfect choice.